Once the money is in sight: Distinctive effects of conscious and unconscious rewards on task performance
SourceJournal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 4, (2011), pp. 865-869
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI AO
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
SubjectWork, Health and Performance
Monetary rewards facilitate performance on behavioral and cognitive tasks, even when these rewards are perceived without conscious awareness. Also, recent research suggests that consciously (vs. unconsciously) perceived rewards may prompt people to more strongly concentrate on task stimuli and details. Here we propose that the latter is sometimes dysfunctional, in that it prevents improvements in task performance. We used an Attentional Blink paradigm, in which such enhanced concentration on task stimuli is detrimental to performance. Participants were consciously (supraliminally) or unconsciously (subliminally) exposed to a high-value or low-value coin that they could earn by performing well on an Attentional Blink trial. As hypothesized, high-value rewards increased performance when they were presented subliminally, while this performance benefit vanished when high-value rewards were presented consciously. We discuss this finding in the context of recent research on unconscious goal pursuit.
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